Start taking Facebook mobile seriously

Facebook has 3.8 million unique users in South Africa. Of these 3.8 million users, 2.5 million access the site via both web and mobile, with 0.5 million using mobile only. This mobile-only number is significant for two reasons: it’s already a big number and, more significantly, it’s the area that is likely to see the biggest percentage growth in South Africa. The 2.5 million ‘web & mobile’ users are already demanding mobile functionality that matches their web functionality. It’s up to you to make it happen.

There is a boom happening in the smart-phone market with more handsets being released daily, mobile operating system wars heating up and network providers aggressively pushing smart-phones to their users because they mean more revenue across data usage. It’s a smart-phone future for sure. Vodacom recently disclosed that 1 in every 5 phones sold is a smart-phone and other networks similarly punt the smart-phone in every deal you see advertised. These days you just aren’t cool if you don’t have social icons floating around your new phone offering.

So what does mobile have to do with you and Facebook? Well, companies building Facebook fan pages focus too heavily on the web user experience and not enough on the mobile experience. We create tabs with flash (micro-site type) interaction, we have click-throughs on the status updates to websites that aren’t compatible on mobile web. Most handsets can’t even access notes posted, polls, or adequately read all the commentary on posts. Accessing Facebook via a mobile browser improves the situation slightly but it’s still alarmingly overlooked.

By ignoring mobile we’re ostracising an audience that, although not a large piece of the current pie, is still an active and growing audience. This audience will surpass the number of users who access Facebook via web, and it will happen faster in countries like South Africa with our incredible mobile penetration. It’s important for us to remember this when doing content and campaign strategy for these pages.

You need to start catering for the mobile Facebook user with as much care as you would a web user. To get you started, here are some tips you can work on immediately:

  • Status updates:
      o If you’re posting links to your website, make sure it is compatible for mobile viewing
      o Create updates for your mobile fans only (something they could use while being “mobile”)
  • Linking to tabs / notes in status updates might mean the mobile users can’t use these updates at all
  • Direct URL’s to your fanpage from an SMS (Join us on ) doesn’t link straight to the fanpage, be aware of that


Mobile is definitely an interesting space right now. As more users access Facebook from their mobile devices we’re going to see more functionality made available and more opportunity for companies to offer a better user experience via the mobile device. Keep your eyes on mobile.